Natchez Convention Center faces audit

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Editor’s note: The following story published in Wednesday’s paper incorrectly quoted Mayor Darryl Grennell during discussions about the audit of the convention center. Grennell said the city would incur the cost of the audit. We regret the error, and the story has been corrected.

NATCHEZ — At Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell’s request, the board of aldermen voted Tuesday to conduct an audit of the Natchez Convention Center.

Grennell requested that CPA Wallace Collins, who has been assisting in the city clerk’s office, be allowed to perform the audit on the convention center.

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“I am requesting … that we allow Wallace (Collins) and his CPA firm to go in and do an audit of the convention center so that we can go ahead and get our hands on exactly the revenues and the expenditures that have occurred in the convention center so everybody can be on the same page,” Grennell said. “To open the doors to transparency as it relates to the convention center, I think that there needs to be an audit performed.”

Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving asked if there would be any extra fees for Collins to perform the audience, to which Grennell said the city would need to pay for the audit.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis was the only alderperson not to vote in favor of the audit, instead choosing to abstain.

The decision to perform an audit comes in the midst of a petition circulating which asks the mayor and board of aldermen to obtain such financial documents.

Louisiana attorney Paul Benoist, who has a Natchez law office, crafted the petition, alleging that the city had not been adequately monitoring the performance of the convention center for the past 10 years.

In 2007, the city contracted management responsibilities of the center to New Orleans Hotel Consultants, headed by hotelier Warren Reuther. The contract permits the city to view NOHC’s bank statements pertaining to the convention center.

Last week, Grennell said he had been trying to get his hands on those financial statements since he entered office just more than a year ago.